BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Dearest friends, you were always so careful to follow my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away you must be even more careful to put into action God’s saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:12-13 New Living Translation).
Instructions are very helpful in carrying out any assignment successfully. The entire Bible is a book of instructions from God. The Epistles are books of instructions in particular to the church.
Paul, writing to the Philippians in the scripture above, referred to the previous instructions he had given them.
Saul disobeyed God’s instruction through Samuel and did not destroy the Amalekites completely. 1 Samuel 15:24 says, “Then Saul finally admitted, ‘Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the LORD’s command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded” (New Living Translation). The kingdom was taken from him and given to his rival, David, a man after God’s heart (1 Samuel 15:28; 28:17-19).
Earlier in 1 Samuel 13, Saul had done a similar thing, when he violated Samuel’s instruction to wait for him seven days at Gilgal to offer sacrifice. After seven days, when Samuel had not arrived, and seeing the people scattered from him, he intruded into the office of a priest. He offered a sacrifice that was not his responsibility. He should have continued to wait because shortly after he had offered the sacrifice, Samuel arrived. “And Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you’” (1 Samuel 13:13-14 New King James Version).
David gave instructions to his son, Solomon, before he died, especially with regard to the building of the temples. He said in 1 Chronicles 22:11, “Now, my son, may the LORD be with you and give you success as you follow his instructions in building the Temple of the LORD your God” (New Living Translation). 1 Chronicles 28 also contains detailed instructions to Solomon about the temple project. These instructions, no doubt, helped Solomon.
The following instructions shall be helpful to workers in the house of God
1.Be sure you’re born again. There is no point in being a worker in the house of God if you’re not born again. You must be born again first before your service can be meaningful. Your salvation is more important than the work you want to do in church. Don’t pretend or be ashamed if you have never given your life to Jesus. You should have given your life to Jesus before you became a worker. But it is better late than never.
Nicodemus was a teacher in Israel, yet he didn’t even understand the meaning of being born again when Jesus told him he must be born again. Jesus explained it to him (John 3:3-21). Thereafter, this Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin became a secret disciple of Jesus (John 7:51, 19:38-39). Therefore, don’t be embarrassed. Give your life to Jesus if you haven’t, no matter how many years you’ve been a church worker.
How do you get born again? Romans 10:10 says, “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (New King James Version).
If you are not born again, I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you’ve said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! Let your pastor know that you have just given your life to Jesus so that he can arrange how you can be taught the foundational truths a Christian should know. However, make sure your church is a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. This will help you to grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be.
2. Have the right motive for wanting to be a church worker. It is possible to serve God with a wrong motive. Hear Paul in Philippians 1:17: “Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me” (New Living Translation).
Some people have ulterior motives for joining the workforce of the church. Such people will be dangerous to the church and their service will not be rewarded by God. Man looks at the eyes, but God looks at the heart. God is concerned about our motives more than our actions. Proverbs 20:27 says, “The LORD’s searchlight penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive” (New Living Translation). Proverbs 16:2 says, “People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives” (New Living Translation).
Paul said, “Our purpose is to please God, not people. He is the one who examines the motives of our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4 New Living Translation). Have the right purpose concerning service in the kingdom. Daniel 1:8 says, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself” (New King James Version). Let your purpose for doing the work of God be right.
Don’t be a pretender. Be real. Be sincere. “Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD!” (Joshua 24:14 New King James Version). Don’t be a hypocrite. Job 15:34 says the company of hypocrites would be barren. It’s dangerous to be a hypocrite in the house of God.
The pastor may not know your motive, but don’t forget what 1 Corinthians 4:5 says: “When the Lord comes, he will bring our deepest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. And then God will give to everyone whatever praise is due” (New Living Translation). What will be your reward when the Lord comes? Revelation 22:12 says, “See, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me, to repay all according to their deeds” (New Living Translation).
3. Prepare yourself prayerfully for every assignment in the house of God. Every church work is spiritual, including sweeping the house of God and cleaning the toilet. Therefore take it seriously. The devil is against anything that concerns God, so we need to pray on different issues concerning the work we do in the house of God. Lift up your assignment before God in prayer.
In Luke 18, Jesus spoke a parable that men always ought to pray and not lose heart. Paul said, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 American Standard Version). Pray persistently. The focus of the prayer may vary from time to time or the assignment. It could be for the Spirit power, favour, acceptance, money, good health, open door, the success of a programme, etc. But no matter what, we cannot do without prayer.
4. Trust in the LORD to do the work well. Focus on the LORD, not yourself. Don’t depend on your wisdom, skill or experience. Self-confidence or over-confidence is destructive. If you’re afraid whether you’ll do it well or not, confess that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). David said, “But when I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3 New Living Translation). Psalm 118:8-9 says, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes” (New King James Version).
As a church worker, there is nothing bad in being well educated, even having a PhD., but minus the grace of God, failure is inevitable. Paul says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10 New King James Version). God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 New King James Version). Trust in Him and let His grace be sufficient for you.
5. Don’t be carnal about the work of God. Beware of carnality as you serve God. Romans 8:6-8: “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (New King James Version).
To be carnally minded means to allow the sinful nature to control your mind. Paul described the Corinthian Christians as carnal (1 Corinthians 3:4-5). The New Living Translation puts it this way: “Aren’t you acting like those who are not Christians?”(1 Corinthians 3:4b) So carnality is acting in an unchristian way. It is “acting like the people of the world” (1 Corinthians 3:4b New Century Version).
Among any group of church workers where there is carnality, you’ll find envy, strife, backbiting, tale-bearing, etc. These were evidently present in the Corinthian church, and also in many Christian assemblies today. This should not be so.
Hear Paul: “For you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not carnal?”(1 Corinthians 3:3-4 New King James Version)
Playing politics in church or any workers’ group in the church is part of carnality. Promote cooperation, not division. Be a team player. Don’t be a lone ranger or a divisive person. No single person can do the work of God alone. You’ll always work in the midst of people and with people. In spite of the differences in our backgrounds, nature, idiosyncrasies, etc. we must learn how to get along with people. It is one of the most important requirements for succeeding in any assignment, and indeed in life.
As you work in the house of God, avoid carnality. Don’t seek self-promotion or self-glorification. God must increase and you must decrease (John 3:30). Don’t touch God’s glory.
Working in the house of God in any capacity is not to show off, but to show forth His praises. Psalm 79:13 says, “So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, will give You thanks forever; we will show forth Your praise to all generations” (New King James Version).
6. Do practical preparation to equip yourself or improve your performance. It may be reading books relevant to your assignment or department. Knowledge is power. As great as Paul was, he never stopped reading. Even while in prison, he wrote to Timothy: “Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come — and the books, especially the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13 New King James Version). The New Living Translation renders parchments as papers. So the books, especially the papers, were of utmost importance to Paul. He was a reader. People say readers are leaders, but I’ll rather say leaders are readers.
Daniel was also a reader. He said, “In the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:2 New King James Version). His understanding came from reading. If he hadn’t read the writings of Prophet Jeremiah, he wouldn’t have learnt from the word of the LORD, as recorded by Jeremiah, that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years.
Read books, practice, etc. to improve yourself. If you need to go for training, go for it. For instance, a singer, an instrumentalist, a children’s teacher, etc. can go for further training to improve himself for his work in the house of God. He/she doesn’t have to wait for the church for sponsorship if the means are available. It is part of his/her contribution to the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
7. Have a plan. Don’t do everything by instinct or last-minute rushing. God is a master planner. We saw how He created the heavens and the earth. Psalm 102:25 says, “Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands” (New King James Version). God didn’t do the work of creation haphazardly or chaotically.
That doesn’t mean you should be rigid and not be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit to do something spontaneously. Paul said in Jude 3, “Dearly loved friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the truth of the Good News” (New Living Translation). Did you see that Paul had a plan? But he had to change it apparently yielding to the Holy Spirit?
Prayerfully have a plan for how you intend to go about your assignment, nevertheless, be flexible in the hand of the Holy Spirit. For instance, it is wrong not to prepare what you want to teach the children and say every time that you’re leaving everything to the Holy Spirit. Sometimes when some people say, “Let the Holy Spirit take control”, they’re only trying to hide their laziness under spirituality! Why not sit down with the Holy Spirit to work out a plan ahead? Planning does not mean taking over control from the Holy Spirit.
Proverbs 21:5 says, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty” (New Living Translation). Also, Proverbs 3:21-22 says, “My child, don’t lose sight of good planning and insight. Hang on to them, for they fill you with life and bring you honor and respect” (New Living Translation).
Wise planning is central to effectiveness. Proverbs 2:11 says, “Wise planning will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe” (New Living Translation). Plan ahead, but don’t be rigid. Yield to the Holy Spirit.
8. Pursue excellence. Strive to give God your best. That’s why you must study, plan, practice, etc. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom” (New Living Translation).
Don’t be contented with mediocrity in your service in the house of God. Our God is an excellent God; His name is excellent (Psalm 8:1, 9). He is excellent in power (Job 37:23). His greatness is excellent (Psalm 150: 2). Give Him excellent service. Proverbs 31:29 says, “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all” (New King James Version). Without trying to compete with anybody, give God the best you can at every point in time. He deserves it.
Colossians 1:16 says, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (New King James Version). The twenty-four elders in heaven also confirmed this saying, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created everything, and it is for your pleasure that they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11 New Living Translation).
Psalm 100:3 says, “Acknowledge that the LORD is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (New Living Translation). Acknowledge that you exist for Him and give Him the best in return as a mark of honour to Him.
9. Be faithful. Faithfulness means being loyal, devoted, trustworthy, dependable. Can God depend on you to do your work appropriately in the house of God? Are you there today, but disappear tomorrow? That is not faithfulness. 1 Corinthians 4:2 says, “Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful” (New Living Translation). The Bible says about the men who worked to repair the temple of the LORD in the days of Josiah, “And the men did the work faithfully” (2 Chronicles 34:12 New King James Version).
A leader should look for faithfulness in people, above any other impressive quality, before appointing them. Nehemiah said, “I gave the responsibility of governing Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah, the commander of the fortress, for he was a faithful man who feared God more than most” (Nehemiah 7:2 New Living Translation).
Paul told Timothy, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2 New King James Version). The New Living Translation uses the word “trustworthy” instead of “faithful”.
Jesus dealt with faithfulness and unfaithfulness in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 and the parable of the ten minas in Luke 19:11-27. Faithful servants were rewarded and the unfaithful punished. “A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished” (Proverbs 28:20 New King James Version).
Luke 16:10-12 says, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?” (New King James Version)
Church workers must be faithful to God, faithful to their pastors and heads of departments, and faithful in using their gifts and talents. They should emulate the examples of faithful people in the Bible. God testified that Moses was faithful in all His house – God’s entire house (Number 12:7; Hebrews 3:2, 5). Jesus was also faithful as a Son over His own house (Hebrews 3:6). The Bible says Daniel, as governor in Babylon, was faithful – no error or fault was found in him (Daniel 6:4). Paul described Timothy as his beloved and faithful son in the Lord (1 Corinthians 4:17).
Be a faithful church worker. Be loyal and committed to your pastor or leader. Don’t be a traitor like Judas Iscariot. Don’t be rebellious. You can’t be effective without faithfulness.
10. Don’t be proud a result of the people’s attention you’re receiving or the prominence the assignment you’re doing in church is giving you. God’s work is not to show off. You must serve with humility. God must be the focus; don’t attract people’s attention to yourself deliberately. You must be the colt that Jesus is riding on, and you must know that any honour or applause by the people is not for you – be wise to divert any praise to Him. He alone must take the glory (Mark 11:7-10).
Consider any opportunity to serve as a privilege. Don’t think that you’re irreplaceable. Nobody is indispensable. Hear the advice of Paul: “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3 King James Version). You are just a member of an assembly that belongs to the body of Christ. There are other members that God can use to do what you’re doing and there are those you can’t do what they’re doing (Romans 12:4-8). So what is the reason for pride?
Use your gifts with humility; don’t let God replace you. For every Saul, there is a David! “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor” (Proverbs 29:23 New King James Version). Pride goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Remember Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-16). Don’t also forget Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:29-37).
Be humble as you work in the house of God, no matter how greatly God is using you. If He stops using you, the difference will be clear. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). Therefore, don’t let anything go to your head. Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom” (New King James Version).
11. Be diligent. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (New King James Version). Every Kingdom service requires diligence; there is no room for laziness. “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor” (Proverbs 12:24 New King James Version). The New Living Translation renders it thus: “Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave.”
Has God assigned a particular work to you in the house of God? Don’t be slack in doing it. “Cursed be those who refuse to do the work the LORD has given them, who hold back their swords from shedding blood!” (Jeremiah 48:10 New Living Translation).
Do everything with all your heart and mind. Nehemiah said, “So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work” (Nehemiah 4:6 New King James Version). The Amplified Bible says, “The people had a heart and a mind to work.” Don’t do God’s work half-heartedly. “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but … to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 10:12 New King James Version).
12. Do everything as unto God. Don’t do your work in the house of God as if you are doing it for whoever gave you the assignment. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17 New King James Version). Paul wrote in verse 23, “Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (New Living Translation). Though he was addressing slaves or servants on how to serve their earthly masters, the scripture is also applicable to those serving in the house of God,
You may be serving under a pastor or under a group leader, but it is God you’re serving; you’re not serving a man. This kind of mindset will help you to endure any unpleasant situation on the job because you know it is God, your Father, that you’re serving, not any man. Therefore, nothing discourages you; nothing gets you frustrated. You give your best. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (New King James Version).
Don’t engage in EYE SERVICE; don’t work for the praise of men (Colossians 3:22). God does not reward it. He only rewards HEART SERVICE.
13. Your personal feelings or preferences should not be superior to the assignment you are given. You must subordinate your personal feelings and preferences to the details of the assignment you are given. Your feelings and preferences are not the determining factors. Obedience is the overriding factor.
Don’t do what you like. Do what you are asked to do. Don’t be a stubborn worker. Don’t have or pursue any hidden agenda. Follow instructions. Isaiah 1:19-20 says, “‘If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword’ For the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (New King James Version).
Don’t hesitate to ask for any clarifications if the assignment is not clear. Don’t just rush to do the wrong thing, and later say, “I thought you ask me to…” That’s why sometimes, it may be good and appropriate for you to write down instructions regarding an assignment you’re given and read it out to the source of the instructions to be sure you heard him right and also for him to be sure that he has told you exactly what he meant.
Things can escape your mind or become vague if you don’t write them down. The advantage is that if you’re not sure what exactly the instructions are, you can consult your note. Do exactly what you’re told to do, not what you feel like doing or what you thought you were asked to do.
14. Never complain about the work you’re given. Even if the task is challenging, don’t grumble. Rather, go to God in prayer, and receive divine wisdom and grace to accomplish it. Someone has rightly said, “If Christians spent as much time praying as they do grumbling, they would soon have nothing to grumble about.” I agree.
Don’t give service to God grudgingly. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says everyone should give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. This is talking about money or material things we give to God. The same principle is applicable to our service in the house of God.
“Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing” (Psalm 100:2 New King James Version). It is useless complaining or grumbling while you still go to offer a service to God. God looks beyond our service; He looks at our hearts. “For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 New King James Version).
If it is appropriate for you to seek help from the right quarters in order to get the job done, don’t hesitate to get approval to do so. But, by all means, avoid complaining or murmuring as you serve in the house of God. Philippians 2:14 says, “In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing” (New Living Translation).
15. Don’t hate correction; be teachable. Nobody is perfect. Nobody knows everything. You need correction for you to grow, and for you to be better. So learn to take correction humbly, and adjust – it is part of the learning process. Don’t react or withdraw because you’ve been corrected.
Proverbs 27:5 says, “An open rebuke is better than hidden love!” (New Living Translation). Be open to rebuke; don’t hate open rebuke. It is better you hear what you’ve done wrong so that you can improve than for you to be given the impression that everything is all right. Benefit from criticisms. “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject criticism, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding” (Proverbs 15:31-32 New Living Translation).
Proverbs 29:1 says, “Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be broken beyond repair” (New Living Translation). Be teachable and bendable. Hear what Proverbs 13:18 says: “If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept criticism, you will be honored” (New Living Translation).
In fact, you need to ask your leader from time to time what areas you need improvement in or how you can do your assignment better. His timely and sincere correction will help you more than the commendation you may prefer always.
16. Don’t slow down God’s work through procrastination and delay of feedback. Time is crucial and every work must be done not at your convenience, but according to the deadline given. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says to everything, there is a season and a time to every purpose under the sun.
Where the assignment has been done and feedback is necessary, don’t delay it. Don’t postpone it till it is convenient for you. That may be too late. Immediate follow-up action may be necessary before the time you’ve proposed. A phone call, SMS, or similar means of communication may sometimes just be enough.
See how Abraham acted promptly when he heard about the capture of Lot. He didn’t delay. Therefore, he was able to pursue and rescue him and the others captured along with Lot and his family. “Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people” (Genesis 14:14-16 New King James Version). Soldiers act swiftly when necessary. You’re a soldier of Christ (2 Timothy 2:3b). As a good soldier of Christ, don’t delay Kingdom operations.
17. Observation and imitation. You can learn by observation and imitation. If you want to learn how to do something, watch carefully how others do it and try to imitate them. Observe how people doing similar assignments you are given do it, especially those always commended. You can also watch how the person giving you the assignment does it. That doesn’t mean you can’t be creative or use personal initiative. You don’t have to lose your identity or uniqueness. Hebrews 6:12 says you should ensure “that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (New King James Version).
Paul told the Philippians, “Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example” (Philippians 3:17 New Living Translation). There is nothing wrong with copying a good example whether through reading or physical observation. The copies of the Bible were not as common in the early church as we have today. Paul told the Corinthians, “So I ask you to follow my example and do as I do” (1 Corinthians 4:16 New Living Translation). He says again in1 Corinthians 11:1, “And you should follow my example, just as I follow Christ’s” (New Living Translation). Be sure the person you’re observing and imitating is actually following Christ so that you don’t go astray.
18. Don’t be critical of your leader. Undue and frequent criticism of your leader is an open door to rebellion. Be wary of criticisms. Your leader is not perfect, neither are you. “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. ‘Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces’” (Matthew 7:1-6 New King James Version).
Do you remember Gehazi? He criticized his master; he faulted his judgment; he taught he was wiser than him. The result showed that he was foolish. “But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, ‘Look, my master has spared Naaman this Syrian, while not receiving from his hands what he brought; but as the LORD lives, I will run after him and take something from him.’ So Gehazi pursued Naaman” (2 Kings 5:20-21 New King James Version). He collects gifts from Naaman, which his master had rejected. But he also collected Naaman’s leprosy!
Human beings, including Christians, are too quick to criticize others, but you have to be very careful, particularly when the person involved is your leader. Not because he cannot be wrong, but because you may not be the right person to correct him – there are those whose responsibility it is to correct him; let them do it.
Romans 14:4 says, “Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should” (New Living Translation.) Verse 10 asks, “So why do you condemn another Christian? Why do you look down on another Christian? Remember, each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God” (New Living Translation).
If you become openly critical of your leader, you may deny him the confidence to lead you. If you become critical of your leader, you may also be unable to discharge your best. That was the problem of the servant in Matthew 25. Out of the three servants their master gave money, according to their abilities, to do business before he went on a long journey, he was the only one who didn’t profit with the money he was given.
The first and the second servant doubled the five bags of silver and the two bags of silver they were given respectively. But the odd man out of the three dug a hole and kept there the one bag of silver he was given. Obviously, the master was right to have given him the least amount!
Hear his harsh criticism of his master: “Sir, I know you are a hard man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth and here it is” (Matthew 25:24-25 New Living Translation). Did you see that? Was he not indirectly calling his master a thief? Yet, he continued to serve under him up till this time. That was unfair.
Since he wasn’t lenient with his master in his criticism, the master wasn’t also lenient with him in punishing him. “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! You think I’m a hard man, do you, harvesting crops I didn’t plant and gathering crops I didn’t cultivate? Well, you should at least have put my money into the bank so I could have some interest. Take the money from this servant and give it to the one with the ten bags of gold. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who are unfaithful, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (verses 26-30 New Living Translation). Be careful; don’t be critical of your leader.
If there are things you don’t understand, meet him politely for an explanation. You may discover that you’re wrong and he is right, or he may admit that he is wrong and even address the issue publicly later. But avoid a self-righteous and hypocritical attitude, a judgmental disposition, or an unfair criticism. “Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself” (Galatians 6:1 New Living Translation).
Sometimes, some things are wrong in a leader – his personal life, his style, etc. that those under him are not pleased with. Prayers need to be offered to God concerning such a leader to transform him and give him victory.
Where it becomes inevitable to talk with the leader, the appropriate organ or body in the church or ministry to do that must not shy away from it for the sake of the work of the Kingdom of God. The truth should be spoken in love (Ephesians 4:15). Sometimes, this works, but some other times, the leader may not receive the communication favourably. Arrogance in leadership is dangerous. A leader must always remember that he is accountable to God and the people he is leading. Being accountable includes being accessible.
In certain cases, a leader may have to be reported to the authority above him and the Bible clearly states what such authority should do. 1 Timothy 5:19-20 says, “Do not listen to complaints against an elder unless there are two or three witnesses to accuse him. Anyone who sins should be rebuked in front of the whole church so that others will have a proper fear of God” (New Living Translation).
19. Be honest, especially in financial matters. Don’t steal God’s gold and silver. Jesus said, “And if you are not faithful with other people’s money, why should you be trusted with money of your own?” (Luke 16:12 New Living Translation).
Beware of the love of money. “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:6-10 New King James Version). You cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13).
The Bible specifically says a bishop/pastor/elder/overseer must not be greedy for money (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7). “Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money” (1 Timothy 3:8 New King James Version). A church worker should not serve purposely for money; he cannot serve God and money. “Care for the flock of God entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly — not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God” (1 Peter 5:2 New Living Translation).
Use the money for the purpose it is meant – no mismanagement, no diversion, no misappropriation, no corruption.
20. Be accountable. God is a God of accountability. That is why the Bible says, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12 King James Version). Matt 12:36 also says, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (New King James Version).
You must work in the house of God with the mindset that you’ll give account to the authority you’re serving under and also to God. Don’t work as if you’re the Alpha and Omega. Act responsibly, knowing you will be held liable for whatever is under your watch. Be ready to give an account. Be accessible; be answerable.
In Luke 9:1-6, Jesus empowered his disciples and sent them out to preach the gospel casting out demons and healing all diseases. In verse 10, the Bible says, “And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done” (New King James Version). That’s how it should be.
Mark 6:30 reports a similar thing. “Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught” (New King James Version). In Luke 16:1-13, the master of the unjust steward sacked him over reports that he had been wasting his goods and asked him to give an account of his stewardship.
Who are you accountable to? Give an honest account. Don’t falsify figures; don’t distort the reality. Don’t become unreachable or uncontrollable. Don’t act as if you’re not a man under authority. Remember what that centurion told Jesus? “For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” (Matthew 8:9 New King James Version).
If you’re not accountable to man but claim to be accountable to God alone, you’re a dangerous person – dangerous to yourselves and dangerous to those around you. Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your spiritual leaders and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they know they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this joyfully and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit” (New Living Translation).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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